An introduction to the European Association
for International Education
by Hilary Callan
Executive Director of the EAIE
What is the EAIE?
The EAIE is a non-governmental, non-profitmaking professional association. The goal of the EAIE is to stimulate and facilitate the internationalisation of education, in particular higher education, in Europe, and to meet the professional needs of individuals active in international education.
The EAIE brings together individuals engaged in one of the most international of endeavours – higher education – and, more specifically, those professionals interested in its international dimension. The EAIE now has more than 1900 individual members from over 65 countries, many of whom gather at its Annual Conference to exchange ideas and opinions and who also use the EAIE for networking, information exchange, and to influence the process of internationalisation of higher education in Europe and other parts of the world. Its independence enables it to work in cooperation with governments, trans-governmental bodies, educational institutions and other associations to promote the interests of its members and of international education.
What does the EAIE do?
The EAIE organises an Annual Conference, open to both members and non-members, which has become one of the major events in the European educational calendar and regularly attracts more than 1500 participants. It is a working conference with few plenary sessions, and aims to address the professional concerns of individuals in the field of international higher education. The driving force for the conference comes from the EAIE membership, who organise parallel 'tracks' of sessions on their areas of specialist interest. The environment of the conference provides a concentrated opportunity for debate, sharing of information, contact with colleagues, and professional development. Each year a different venue within Europe is chosen, allowing the participants to focus on international issues in education in a new cultural setting. In 2000, the EAIE conference will be held in Leipzig, Germany, with the special theme "Re-forming international education: the international way". (For more information please see the articles "Re-forming international education: the international way" and "Leipzig 2000" elsewhere in this publication, and the regularly updated information on the EAIE website http://www.eaie.org)
From its foundation, the EAIE has recognised the importance of training for professionals working in the field of international education. The EAIE's training courses traditionally focus on administration and policy in international education, and combine theoretical and practical insights with national, institutional and personal contexts. Participants are expected to take an active role, in a very interactive and hands-on training environment. The courses on offer in 2000 are described in more detail elsewhere in this publication (in the article "EAIE training courses") and on the EAIE website, http://www.eaie.org.
Publications and electronic services
Good communication and exchange of information are vital in the field of international education. The EAIE provides a variety of publications and electronic services designed to meet the information needs of its members. Members receive a regular magazine, EAIE Forum, and a copy of the Membership Directory which contains the names, addresses and contact data of all EAIE members – a valuable networking tool. Later this year the EAIE intends to launch an on-line version of its Membership Directory on the EAIE website, http://www.eaie.org.
The EAIE also publishes a series of Occasional Papers with deeper analysis of selected issues, and is a founding member of the Association for Studies in International Education which publishes the Journal of Studies in International Education.
The EAIE runs an e-mail discussion list called EAIE-L, which can be used by both members and non-members to raise questions and discuss issues in international education, and to search for partner institutions. The EAIE website provides comprehensive information about the EAIE, with interactive registration forms for many EAIE activities plus a number of useful links (including partner-search databases).
On your behalf ...
The EAIE acts as an advocate and mouthpiece for its members, by responding on their behalf to policy initiatives by governments and inter-governmental bodies, and by reviewing, evaluating, and recommending policies and programmes. The EAIE is being increasingly recognised as a significant actor in the field, and its opinion is sought by national and international bodies and authorities. The EAIE's official responses to policy initiatives are published in the form of EAIE Comments, which can be accessed on the EAIE website, http://www.eaie.org. Most recently, the EAIE produced a Comment on the Bologna Declaration (the Joint Declaration of the European Ministers of Education on a European higher education area), in which it sees the potential for deep and wide-ranging change in higher education in Europe. The EAIE endeavours to identify in a proactive way the developments and issues of importance to its members, and to influence these developments on their behalf.
The EAIE also undertakes research, consultancy and other projects to support the aim of quality enhancement in international education. If you have a proposal for a project that you think might interest the EAIE and its members, please do contact the EAIE Secretariat.
Who can join the EAIE?
The EAIE welcomes into membership all individuals with an interest in, and commitment to, the internationalisation of (higher) education. Members are drawn from higher education institutions, government and intergovernmental educational bodies, non-governmental and other agencies involved in international education. Pro-Rectors with international policy responsibility, directors and staff of international offices, educators and researchers with an international involvement, credential evaluators, foreign student advisers, study abroad advisers, language specialists, administrators seeking insight into organisational problems, exchange programme coordinators, staff of national and other educational bodies – all find common ground in the EAIE.
The structure of the EAIE
The newcomer to the EAIE may be confused by the many acronyms in use within the Association. Most of these refer to the internal divisions of the Association: the Professional Sections (PS) and Special Interest Groups (SIG). The world of PSs and SIGs is the beating heart of the Association, the basis on which all its activities are constructed.
What are the Professional Sections? This question can perhaps best be answered by referring first of all to the EAIE's original Statutes, which state, "There shall be professional sections to serve the professional development of the members and to provide a means for communication and cooperative action regarding matters of mutual concern and responsibility". These Professional Sections thus exist to facilitate networking and the exchange of information among members involved in particular fields of international education. Each EAIE Professional Section is responsible for its own 'track' of conference sessions at the Annual EAIE Conference, and they are also active in specialist training, lobbying and the dissemination of information. The Special Interest Groups are in some ways similar to the Professional Sections, but they are more informal networks of EAIE members interested in a particular field, and do not have the formal responsibilities of the Professional Sections.
Today (2000), the EAIE has eight Professional Sections:
. ACE, Admissions Officers and Credential Evaluators
. EBS, Economics and Business Studies
. EDC, Educational Cooperation with Developing Countries
. EEPC, European Educational Programme Coordinators
. IRM, International Relations Managers
. LICOM, Languages for Intercultural Communication and Mobility
. SAFSA, Foreign Student and Study Abroad Advisers
. SWING, Stage, Work Placement and Internship Group
and four Special Interest Groups:
. DEN, Distance Education Network
. IaH, Internationalisation at Home
. NESS, Network of European Summer Schools
. RIL, Research and Innovation Liaison
You can find pages for the various PSs and SIGs on the EAIE website, http://www.eaie.org, where you can read more about the specific interests of each individual PS and SIG, and the activities they have undertaken and/or are planning.
How is the EAIE governed?
The EAIE membership is central to the decision-making structure of the Association. All the Boards, Committees and other bodies are answerable to the membership in one way or another.(1)
Policy issues and decision making for the EAIE as a whole are vested in the Executive Board, which is elected by the membership at the annual General Meeting with the ratification of the results of a postal ballot. The Executive Board in its turn appoints the members of a number of other committees and working groups. The Boards of the various Professional Sections are directly elected by the membership of each Professional Section, and the Special Interest Groups (which are more informally organised) each recommend a contact person.
In general, members are elected on to the various boards and committees for a term of two years, and a system of rotation is encouraged (with only half of the board members standing for election at any one time) so that there is a continuous flow of new ideas but also a sense of continuity and consolidation. The EAIE believes strongly in bottom-up decision-making, and encourages involvement of its members at all levels.
The field of international education is developing at amazing speed. Just a few years ago, many higher education institutions regarded internationalisation as a peripheral activity, a luxury for the lucky few. Today, an international dimension is regarded as essential in higher education, and we see internationalisation being integrated into the central policies of many institutions. One very visible sign of this change has been the dramatic increase in student mobility, particularly where supported by programmes of the European Commission, but internationalisation has many other faces. Future challenges include the internationalisation of life-long learning, and incorporating an international dimension into the education of all students, not just those who study abroad.
The EAIE is just one member of a family of organisations which exist to support the process of internationalisation and to meet these challenges. Our unique focus is on the individual administrator or academic involved in the organisation of this process, to assist them in their work by facilitating information exchange and networking and enhancing their professional development. Together with our sister organisations, we work together in the best traditions of international education to facilitate all aspects of the internationalisation of higher education. You are warmly invited to join us: we look forward to benefiting from your expertise and experience, and we hope that we can offer you much personal and professional enrichment in return.
For more information on the EAIE, and how to become a member, you are kindly invited to visit our website http://www.eaie.org or to contact the EAIE Secretariat for an information packet.
European Association for International Education
PO Box 11189
1001 GD Amsterdam
tel +31-20-525 49 99
fax +31-20-525 49 98
(1) The statutes and bylaws of the EAIE set out the governance of the Association in legal/technical form, and should be consulted for more detailed information.